As we approach the annual ice skating season in London, it is worth recalling that ice skating has been going on in London for many years – indeed, most people will recall the stories of the River Thames freezing over and people skating on it.

The River will never freeze like that again – alas, as the river is now much more narrow and hence flows faster so it can’t slow down to freeze. Also, there was a “mini ice age” at the time and the narrow gaps in the London Bridge caused a significant slowing of the river flow as well.

Anyhow – just over 100 years ago, on the 15th January 1867 was an ice skating disaster on Regents Park Lake. At around 3:30 in the afternoon there were about 500 people on the ice sheet when it was seen to move away from the bankside and split into several pieces. Most of the people stranded on the ice were rescued – but a total of 40 people died in the incident. The dead people were all thrown into the water in its deepest part of the lake.

The lake was later lowered in depth to help prevent further deaths.


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